I like to think that the reviews on this website don’t do clichés. I like to think that basically I/we are just fans of music and essentially the point of what we do when we write about albums is tell you why we think its ace and why you might love it too.

But there is a secret in amongst all this, ladies and gents. And it’s this: we all – every single one of us on every website, who writes these things – wants a Jon Landau moment. Jon Landau was a music critic who saw a young singer in New Jersey and said “I’ve seen rock n roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”

Obviously, the world’s changed since, but a couple of times I’ve seen bands and you just knew. One was Stone Broken, the other one saw a band from South Wales send me a record to review in 2016 and so good was it I was moved to write: “….just because you are playing the Dog And Duck, that doesn’t mean you can’t dream of playing Wembley [and] Those Damn Crows are arena rock in waiting.”

Their last one crashed into the top 20 in the proper album charts and anyone who saw their recent shows with Monster Truck would attest to the fact that they’ve only got more confident since.

All of which means, though, that “Inhale/Exhale” has a weight of expectation. Not that TDC are bothered, in fact quite the opposite. From the opening “Fill The Void” there’s an innate confidence that a band on the cusp always had (I remember watching Stereophonics at Wolves Civic Hall just before they released their second album, they did “Bartender And The Thief” and it was obvious they were going to be the biggest band in rock). Shane Greenhall and the boys are the same here.

“Takedown” underlines it. Simple. In one sentence. “You keep taking me down”  sneers Greenhall, “well, fucker I am still breathing”. And let’s be honest, it sounds like revenge is going to be exacted. Immediately.

“Inhale/Exhale” is slightly different to their other albums. It’s darker, its more aggressive. But its still 10 slabs of shiny, fists in the air arena rock n roll. It’s perfect for 2023, because no one can have lived through the last few years and be exactly the same as they were before.

Together with Dan Weller (the go-to modern producer) they’ve crafted some soaring, yet laser guided stuff. “Man On Fire” is utterly glorious and if it was written by Alter Bridge then Tremonti is sticking another gold disc in his man cave.

To be honest, though, wherever you dip into this, you find a gem. “Wake Up (Sleepwalker)” surveys the modern world and doesn’t like it much. It’s thunderous, mind you. Huge. Some records exist in the margins. Not this one. It’s in your face and its not taking any backward steps.

“This Time I’m Ready” is a change of pace and tone. Balladry from the very top draw. “I won’t give up on life” sings Greenhall, as if reminding himself.

The five of them have a chemistry and it comes shining through. “I Am” – first line “when the world was standing still, I lost the battle, lost the will”-  re-iterates the idea that this is a collection more concerned, perhaps with its surroundings than ever before and on an album full of highlights, then the mid-paced “See You Again” isn’t far away from being the best.

Drummer Ronnie Huxford, guitarists Ian “Shiner” Thomas and David Winchurch’s plus bassist Lloyd Wood have a total mastery of their craft and their ability to write hooks is undimmed. “Lay It On Me” explodes into one, after brooding its way through the verse and if I compare it to Nickelback then here’s your reminder that on this site that is always meant positively.

10 songs. Not an ounce of fat on them. Yes the record is short by some standards, but what’s the point in filler? There’s none here. Instead “Find A Way” is dark, thick riffing, but try and ignore the chorus. You can’t. You won’t want to.

The last one “Waiting For Me” is a little departure. Understated, perhaps, seething with an undercurrent of anger. But its everything that modern hard rock should be. Indeed, the same epithet can be applied to the whole of the album.

“Inhale/Exhale” is simply the next logical step on the journey, its not classic rock, but it’s a rock record that will be heralded as a classic. It’s another album which makes clear the fact that Those Damn Crows are one of the finest bands we have right now.

And breathe…..

Rating 9/10

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